First, Ms Fleming's article emphasizes exactly what should be emphasized as unique to the book: the illustrations were done by thirteen-year-old Brad Simon! Wow! They are fabulous. Check them out and you will agree. I wanted a child's imagination to interpret my text, not an adult illustrator trying to imagining what a child would imagine. Brad did a great job, and I sincerely hope that all his effort pays off for him in as many ways as possible. Well, maybe not so much so that I can't afford to hire him again (just kidding).
Another really important element that is new with What I Saw on the Farm is that the name of Nancy A. Fredrickson appears on the cover after "Photographs by." In all the other books, we only included one picture, the dedication photo, and we credited it under the photo, but in this book we needed nearly as many photos as illustrations. I felt it was an opportunity to get Nancy's name on the title page. At first she disagreed, but after I convinced her how important the photos were to the concept of the book, she relented, making it an historic occasion where I actually "prevailed" in a discussion with her during our first 41 years of marriage.
The name of our company is TWO GUYS FROM SCOTT COUNTY, INC.
In the picture above, the two "guys"( Nancy and me) pose with our 8N Ford at a Farm Show in Owatonna.
Now, just in case you're wondering what else she does in our constant uphill efforts to market and sell our Farm Heritage Books, read on.
It's fair to say that the ideas for the stories are exclusively mine, unless you consider the fact that as I write, I constantly bounce my ideas off her and search out her opinions and approval. No, she is not an editor, but she is my muse, my support arm, and the reason I go on.. and on.
Nancy creates all of the marketing paperwork on her IMac, checks it with me, prints it, assembles it, and places it in pre-packaged stacks to be sent out school, libraries, museums, historical societies, senior care facilities, and various clubs. She prepares and stuffs and mails over two thousand envelopes each year to places that may wish to have me perform my Farm heritage Program.
When we get calls to book a show, we work out the schedule together, but Nancy puts it on the website.
Before we visit a facility, she maps it out, creates a poster specifically for the show, and mails it to the place to ensure all times and dates are accurate. After I prepare a list of photos to use in a program, she assembles the photos on the IMac and burns a DVD for me to use in the show. Then, while I rehearse, she prints thousands of handouts and assembles hundreds of packets to be given free to teachers and other staff members in various facilities.
When we drive to a show, Nancy navigates while I drive. Since we each have have food issues, she always packs a lunch so we can be ensured of having food that will not make our traveling more difficult. Often we spend seven or more hours a day on the road.
After we arrive at a place to do a show, she takes as many photos as she can find time for and sets up the table to sell the books as she tries to visit with as many people as possible. She also times the show and gets a head count for each show. When we are at schools, she makes sure she talks to every teacher and passes them handouts, free stickers for the kids, and a free pen for each teacher.
In all facilities, she handles the sales and calls me over for book-signing. She is always preparing better displays for when we vend at places like Farmfest and Dakota City at the Dakota County Fair. This year for these places, she has created about 15 large posters displaying some of the many farm heritage pictures that have been submitted to us recently. You will find these displays fascinating. I hope you can drop by to visit us.
When we return from any show, she updates the website to include our latest visit while I record sales and prepare a bank deposit.
When I hire an illustrator, Nancy helps me prepare pictures and references so the illustrator knows exactly what I want on each page. (This was not necessary in the last book because I wanted Brad to draw them strictly from his imagination after reading my text.) If an illustration needs to be changed or "tweaked" in any way after the illustrator has finished it, Nancy scans it and makes alterations on her IMac in Photoshop. For example, since our illustrator David Jewell was ill and passed away before many changes could be made on Tommy's Adventure, it was only due to Nancy's craft on Photoshop that we were able to complete the book.
Nancy handles my FaceBook account, which she enjoys but it takes up many hours each week. When we get a book order through the mail or email, I handle the shipping activity, but when we get a phone call requesting a free catalogue in response to our ad in several national magazines, she prepares the sheets for mailing.
Whenever we have a new book, she creates an entire group of new marketing materials, special stickers of the cover, and then prints them so we can provide them free for kids and adults where ever we go.
In the next book, A Farm Country Harvest, Nancy's name will again be included as one of the creators because she is responsible for assembling a section which will make up over half of the book. This section will contain farm photographs donated by people from all over the Midwest and beyond. These photos will show the process of harvest, including cutting, shocking, shocking/stacking, tipping shocks, hauling bundles, shock threshing, stack threshing, handling grain, handling straw, lunch preparations, and all other facets of harvest for which we can get pictures.. The activities in the photos will be narrated and the contributors of the photos will be identified. If we use one of your photos, you get a free book. There is still time to submit a photo and get your farm heritage in this unique harvest book.
So how much of the book production could I do without her?
Well, I really do not want to think about it. I'm just glad she seems to like it.
One thing I know we both enjoy doing is making lists of new ideas as we travel together or as we sit at home relaxing with a glass of wine.
So, I dedicate this blog to Nancy, the gal in "Two Guys From Scott County, Inc."
Photograph by Gordon W. Fredrickson